Bishop Stang fights cancer on and off the field
While the Bishop Stang girls’ lacrosse team battles it out on the field, their head coach Alison Caito-Galligan is fighting her own battle against stage four melanoma that has spread to her brain.
Caito-Galligan was a student athlete herself, receiving a full scholarship to play lacrosse at Boston University. She went on to start the girls lacrosse program at Dartmouth High School and has used her competitive edge to fight through her struggles.
“I’m a competitor, I took on running and I exercised seven days a week for my whole life up until this past five months … it’s hard but I have to reframe [my life] so I can think positively.”
Coaching keeps the joy of competition in her life.
“I love coaching, I love working with the girls. This season the girls are just wonderful, they really do take care of me, they don’t let me carry any of my bags,” said Caito-Galligan.
She added that her team is a really fun group to be around and she is grateful to spend her time coaching them.
On Monday May 8 the team, coached by Caito-Galligan, fought for a 6-6 overtime tie against Fairhaven during their “Stick it to Cancer” game.
Stick it to Cancer is a fundraising initiative that uses sports as a fundraising venue to support the American Cancer Society. The team has raised over $4,500 for the cause, according to Caito-Galligan.
Caito-Galligan knows first hand the impact the American Cancer Society has on patients who need specialized care.
“In order to keep the cancer foundation looking at different options for people in terms of immunotherapy or chemotherapy or anything new, they need money,” she said. “Part of my treatment was new therapies they figured out, so I’m hoping we can do that for other people.”
Using sports to rally for a cause is something that Stang’s head field hockey coach Kara Caron sees the benefit of.
“We have the opportunity as teams, we can get a group of people together and bring attention to something in a bigger crowd, and in person … which I think has more of an impact and has more emotion to it,” said Caron.
She feels that the impact of her coaching and the Stick it to Cancer fundraiser has a mutual benefit for the cause and her team.
“Most of the team has some experience with cancer, so we talked about that and that we’re playing for people that have passed or people that are living with it or people that are cured,” she said.
This is an idea echoed by Stang’s athletic director, Dennis Golden.
“It is something that is very important to us as at the school,” said Golden. “It is a great thing that both [teams] can join in for a good cause … because everybody’s life is touched by [cancer in some way].”
Caito-Galligan has worked as a guidance counselor at Dartmouth Middle School for 30 years and is grateful for the support the Dartmouth community gives though her personal battle.
“I don’t have any family [close by], my closest [relative] is about an hour away,” she said. “So, when the doctors ask me about my support and who I have, I have my brothers and sisters, I’m one of seven, but I really have the Dartmouth community and especially Dartmouth Middle School.”
To support the American Cancer Society go to donate.cancer.org.